Midtown Community Court

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The Midtown Community Court

The Midtown Community Court is a part of the New York City Criminal Court[1][2] that focuses on quality-of-life offenses, such as prostitution, shoplifting, farebeating and vandalism, with a view toward rehabilitation instead of punishment. For example, judges may order offenders to perform community service and refer them to such social services as drug treatment, mental health counseling, and job training.[citation needed]

It was established in 1993 in the Times Square neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City,[3] and is now located on West 54th Street in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan.[note 1] The Midtown Community Court was established as a collaboration between the New York State Unified Court System[4] and the Center for Court Innovation. The court relies on partnerships with local residents, businesses and social service agencies to organize community restitution projects and provide on-site social services, including drug treatment, mental health counseling, and job training.[5] Unlike most conventional courts, the Midtown Court combines punishment and help, requiring low-level offenders to pay back the neighborhood through community service while mandating them to receive social services to address problems that often underlie criminal behavior.[6]

The court was the subject of an independent evaluation by the National Center for State Courts.[7] According to the National Center, the court's compliance rate of 75 percent for community service was the highest in the city.[8] Offenders performing community service contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of labor to the community each year. In conjunction with aggressive law enforcement and economic development efforts, the court has affected neighborhood crime: prostitution arrests dropped 56 percent and illegal vending was down 24 percent.

The court has been replicated both in the United States,[9] in cities including Austin, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, and abroad,[10] in countries as varied as South Africa, Great Britain,[note 2] Canada,[note 3] and Australia.[note 4]


  1. ^ The Midtown Community Court's address is 314 W. 54th St., New York, NY 10019
  2. ^ For more information about community courts in Great Britain, see the British government's official web site
  3. ^ For more information about the Vancouver Community Justice Centre, see here
  4. ^ For more information about the Collingwood Community Justice Centre in Melbourne, Australia, see here


  1. ^ "New York City Criminal Court - Special Projects". Retrieved 23 November 2014. The Midtown Community Court, part of the Criminal Court of the City of New York, arraigns defendants who are arrested in Times Square, Clinton and Chelsea areas of the city and charged with any non-felony offense. 
  2. ^ Criminal Court of the City of New York: Annual Report 2013 (PDF). Office of the Chief Clerk of New York City Criminal Court. July 2014. p. 53. 
  3. ^ Center for Court Innovation - Midtown Community Court
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "How It Works: A Summary of Case Flow and Interventions at the Midtown Community Court" (PDF). Center for Court Innovation. 
  6. ^ "Community Court Principles: A Guide for Planners" (PDF). Center for Court Innovation. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  8. ^ The National Center survey was published as a book. See "Dispensing Justice Locally: The Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court". Routledge. 
  9. ^ "Community Courts: An Evolving Model" (PDF). U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. 
  10. ^ "Community Justice Around the Globe: An International Overview" (PDF). Crime & Justice International.